Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was born in Allahabad, India, to a wealthy Kashmiri family. Her brother Jawarharlal Nehru grew up to become the first Prime Minister of India, and her sister Krishna Hutheesing to become a writer. She was educated privately. In 1921, she married Ranjit Pandit, a lawyer and classical scholar with whom she had three daughters. The couple became active in the Congress Party and the struggle for Indian independence from Great Britain, and were imprisoned for their activities. Her husband died in Lucknow prison jail in 1944. She got involved in local government in her home state of Uttar Pradesh and was appointed minister of local government and health in 1937, rising to become the first female minister in the Indian government in 1946. She also served as leader of the Indian delegation to the United Nations (1946–1948) and first president of the United Nations General Assembly (1953–1954). She served as India's ambassador to both the USSR and the USA, as well as to Ireland, Spain, and Mexico. She wrote The Evolution of India (1958) and a memoir, The Scope of Happiness (1979), published the year she retired.